Is your hotel program ready for a return to travel?

By |2021-07-07T22:56:26+00:00July 6th, 2021|Business Travel|

A robust hotel strategy is a key element of every corporate travel program. In addition to saving a company upwards of 10% or more each year, an unmanaged program also increases potential health and safety risks for travelers – a greater priority as we begin to exit this pandemic. While corporate travel continues to ramp up in 2021, with some sources even predicting that by the year end we will return back to 2019 hotel booking volume levels, travel managers cannot afford to wait any longer on getting their hotel programs in order.

Travel programs can, and in today’s post-pandemic climate often do, mandate how travelers book hotels. But setting up and mandating a hotel program is often only half the battle of successfully implementing it. Communicating travel policies to a company’s travelers usually is the most important and difficult part of creating a best in class hotel program. It is imperative that corporate travelers understand all the benefits of using a company’s hotel program so that they feel like booking a company’s pre-selected hotels is the best option. Here are some ways to do just that:


Today’s travelers are much more concerned and conscious of the environmental impact of their travel. Hotels have responded accordingly by taking steps to implement more sustainable practices. But often travel managers have difficulty communicating these sustainable options effectively. With no central, consistent metric or organizing body, travel managers often have to evaluate hotels’ sustainability practices while negotiating rates with hotels. And even after tirelessly capturing this data, one-by-one, communicating it effectively to travelers is very challenging. Travelers simply do not know which hotels have the most robust sustainability initiatives. A corporate hotel program can help educate and communicate to its travelers the hotels that are sustainable while the traveler is making a purchasing decision. This helps travelers feel confident that they are making a green choice and contributing to a cleaner tomorrow.

Payment options

Modern hotel programs have grown to become quite sophisticated in providing employees with innovative payment solutions when booking hotels. It could be as simple as travelers who use traditional corporate cards being informed that they get extra cardmember points if they book at hotels within their programs. Or for the numerous employees who do not have access to corporate cards, it could be informing travelers about specific hotels that accept virtual card payment solutions so that travelers do not need to pay out of pocket and seek reimbursement later.

Corporate Codes

Many companies are starting to adopt, or at least experiment with, a more omni-channel approach, often letting employees book certain elements of their travel directly with suppliers. Hotel bookings are the first category to go direct as employees often prefer the supplier interfaces to explore maps, attractions, photos, interactive tours, and reviews as opposed to the more standardized OBT display. In order to make this “open” or omni-channel approach work, it is essential for travel programs to direct employees to the correct sites (eg. Marriott vs. and ensure they use the company corporate codes to access negotiated rates, perks, inclusions, and for the stay to be counted towards the company’s total. Without this valuable stays/nights booked data, the travel program loses its leverage when renegotiating rates with hotels.


Oftentimes employees are unaware of all the extra perks they get when booking a company preferred hotel. These could range from extra reward points, early check-in or late check-out, to a free breakfast. Or better yet, all of the above! By educating travelers about the perks and benefits of specific hotel properties, they will feel incentivized to book the correct hotels and use the preferred channels. Without this, employees can often be misled by apparently “cheaper” prices on consumer sites without realizing that the cost of paying the pre-negotiated perks actually makes the direct booking more expensive.

Contactless check-in and check-out

One perk that has now become a need in our post-pandemic world is the ability to check-in and check-out of hotels in a contactless manner. Help your travelers skip the in person check-in and check-out process entirely by letting them do it completely within an app on their phone. They then can use this same app to help them unlock the doors, order food and beverages, control room settings, and more.

How can Shep help

Communicating the many benefits of a hotel program can often be difficult but doesn’t need to be. Shep can help travel managers communicate the many features of their hotel program consistently across multiple OBTs and more than 2,000 travel sites.

Register for our 15-minute webinar on July 6th to dig deeper into this topic and see how Shep can help or click the Let’s Talk button below to find out more!

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